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Diversified Citrus Marketing, the sales and marketing division of the Dundee Citrus Growers Association in Lake Hamilton, FL, has changed its name to Florida Classic Growers Inc., effective Sept. 27.

"We made this important decision because of how well our customers relate us to our well-known heritage label, 'Florida Classic,'“ Al Finch, vice president of sales and marketing, told The Produce News.

In a Sept. 27 press release, Lindsay Raley, president and chairman of the board of Dundee, said, “With the evolution of Florida Classic, we look forward to extending our record of providing superior products and service as we continue to evolve to best meet the needs of our customers and consumers."

Also in the press release, Bobby Bawcum, president of Florida Classic Growers, said that he welcomes the name change and believes it will enable customers to more readily identify with the “Florida Classic” label. “As Florida Classic Growers, we will continue to provide the same great products and service under a brand name that has achieved tremendous equity and trust,” Mr. Bawcum said. “The addition of the last word to our new name is a reminder that our customers are able to buy directly from the growers themselves.”

Florida Classic Growers also announced on Sept. 27 that the company would add Florida peaches to its portfolio in 2011.

“Dundee and Florida Classic Growers are enthusiastically looking forward to introducing flavorful, locally grown peaches into the marketplace,” said Mr. Raley.

Mr. Finch said that the company is also excited about the upcoming citrus season.

“We officially began Florida Navels and Fallglo tangerines on September 14,” he said. “The Navel crop is clean, and we anticipate an excellent year. Retail chains are always excited to be getting back into Navels, and many will be promoting the item during the month of October in four-pound bags and in bulk.”

Mr. Finch added that Florida Navels offer a nice transition opportunity from South Africa Navels and prior to the start of California’s movement in November. The Florida Navel program will run through the end of the year. “Like all of the citrus varieties this year, the Fallglo tangerine crop is also a good one,” he added. “Look for these to continue through the end of October. Then we begin with the Sunburst tangerine variety, which will be available through the end of the year and possibly into the first week of January.”

Amber Sweet oranges began the week of Sept. 27, and the crop represents the first of Florida juice oranges for the season. Supplies will be available through the end of October, with most promotions seen in four- and five- pound bags.

“In mid- to late October, we will begin moving the Hamlin orange variety,” said Mr. Finch. “These will be available until early January.

“Tangelos will be available starting the first week of November and will run into early January,” he continued.

Florida Classic Growers will start moving red grapefruit in the middle of October. Mr. Finch said that sizes will be small during the beginning of the season, but availability of larger 32- and 27-size fruit should increase as the season progresses. The company is encouraging five-pound bag promotions at start of the movement, and red grapefruit will be available until May.

“We will have kumquats available again this year,” said Mr. Finch. “This nice holiday item will be available sometime in November and will run through mid-March.

“We are also promoting Pummelos again this year,” he added. “These will run from early October through mid-January.”

Honey tangerines will follow the Sunburst movement in January. Mr. Finch said that the crop size is down a little compared to previous years, but the company anticipates a good overall crop. Movement is expected to extend through mid-April.

Temple oranges will begin in mid-January and run through mid-February. The four-week program is a nice niche for retailers, said Mr. Finch. “We will transition from Hamlins to mid-season oranges, which will run through the end of February,” he said. “Then we will start the largest Florida orange variety, the Valencia. These typically start in late February and run to June, but we will also continue our Valencia storage program. The variety will be available through the end of July, and possibly into August.”

The company will also continue to expand its gift-fruit program this season. It has launched a separate web site specifically for the program, www.dundeecitrus.com, where people can order gift fruit on-line.

Its fundraising programs for schools will also continue in November and December this year.

Mr. Finch added that Florida Classic Growers continues to update its two state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to accommodate its growing business.